MATT PIKKULA - ALBERT PIKKULA
From 'Echoing Footsteps', published 1967, Powder River County Extension Homemakers Council
By Albert Pikkula
In 1915, my father, Matt Pikkula filed on a homestead two miles southeast of the old George Horkan ranch, close to Little Pumpkin Creek. In May of 1917, he moved his family, Mrs. Pikkula and four children: Alberta, George, Marie and me, Albert from Butte, Montana to the homestead to live. All the children attended the old Loesch School, walking three and one-half miles to and from school. At that time, as I remember, there were twenty-seven children going to school there. Our first teacher was Annie Ford. John Williams, later a Broadus businessman, was also one of our teachers. My dad mined coal during the winter at the old Chesworth and Griffin mines for all the neighborhood. He also took haying and fencing contracts on neighboring ranches. He farmed his place until his death in 1923. In 1924, George and the two girls left the ranch. I stayed on the ranch, which I operated with my mother into the 1930's. I was married to Blanche Hopper in 1928. Two girls, Joyce and Myrna were born of this marriage. Both are now teaching school. Our neighborhood will be remembered in the early '30's as having a better than average baseball team. The name was "The Outcasts". Many good times were had by all of the neighborhood at these ball games which were often times preceded by a picnic. Many of the ball players at that time came to the ball games and practiced games on horseback. At that time, dollars were hard to come by, and riding on horseback and ganging up to ride in trucks were the cheapest modes of transportation. In 1934, 1 moved to Ashland and my mother moved to Miles City, where she later married Ben Bringe. Ben worked on numerous ranches throughout Custer and Powder River County throughout his life. He died in the 1950's. My mother followed him in death in 1962 at the age of 88. My brother George passed away in 1964 in Chicago, where he had made his home for 38 years. I had the Ashland-Volborg mail route for four years, weathered the winter of 1935, which Powder River folks will remember as one of the severest winters of the century. I remember leaving Ashland two different mornings with the mercury 52 degrees below zero. I walked the first 15 miles carrying the mail on my back. The mail sack often weighed fifty to sixty pounds. My first horse was stationed at the old John Colwell ranch. I changed horses about six times in a round trip -at the Bidwell sawmill, John Gold ranch, and my home place during the trip to Volborg and back. This was a total distance of 75 miles afoot and horseback through snow often up to 2 feet deep. It will be remembered that I went the four years without missing a trip. In 1938, I moved to Great Falls where I carried two mail routes. One was to Eden and the other to Milligan. This was noted as being one of the toughest routes in Montana, and again never missed a trip. When World War II broke out, I served in the Navy until the end of the war. At the end of the war, I returned to Powder River County and was married to Helen Irion, daughter of Ed Irion of Mizpah. We have two children who have attended their lifetime of school in Broadus. Their names are Gale and Verna Jo. I am still in the ranching and construction business. We make our home one mile out of Broadus on Powder River.